Previous month:
May 2022

Entries from June 2022

The French word for "Fellowship" and (a funny term for "Homebody")

Jules at farmers market la ciotat
My Mom and her fish purse at our farmer's market. Photo taken 4 years ago, when Jules moved to France. 

In Summer reading: From Moulin Rouge to Gaudi's City by E.J. Bauer

Today's Words: Fellowship

1. camaraderie (companionship, company)
2. confrérie (brotherhood, friary)

Bonus Word: Homebody

    : pantouflard(e) (from "pantoufle" or slipper)

FRENCH SOUND FILE: Click below to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in today's post. Then scroll down to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.

Click here for the audio clip


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Tergiverser—now there’s an amusing word to begin with. It means to hem and haw, to sit on the fence, to remain undecided, and Undecided is my middle name! Just when I was debating about whether I should get out of bed and get to the farmers market and the fish market before la foule, a certain passage in a book I was reading lifted me up and out the door, d'un seul coup!

If inspiration is the vehicle that gets us moving forward, then reflection may be the key to what makes us tick. Sometimes we have to wonder why it is we do what we do. Why, I ask, do I have such a hard time going places, and is that good or bad? What’s wrong with being a loner, une solitaire, un ours des cavernes? (I prefer the term “une sauvage”--sounds cooler than "hermit"! But that’s just the Ego talking. Maybe my ego is keeping me back?)

While there are always the big things, often it is a string of petites choses that keep me stuck: "I haven't washed my hair in days. I don't want to run into anyone I know. I'll stay home!" That's enough to have me hiding indoors dining on a can of tuna for lunch. And yet I sense this is not God's will for me. (Not that canned tuna is unholy)....

So this morning I put on my floppy hat, and hurried out the front door, ignoring everything clawing me back: my elderly dog who wanted a walk (“it’s too far for you, Smokey!”), my son who had questions and suggestions about the laundry, a text I meant to answer illico...). With the front gate pulled shut behind me, j’étais délivrée! Free as a bird.

Coincidentally it is the season of the swallows, and it was a pleasure to watch ces hirondelles swooping through the sky above as I walked to the fishmongers. At Poissonerie Laure, the lively and colorful selection of fish is second only to the lively and colorful patronne. "How is Jean-Marc?" Laure asked. But when Laure's husband put down his carving knife and came over to hear the update, I realized they were aware of his épreuve. I thanked them for their empathie, and headed out with two fillets de cabillaud and du saumon

At the farmer's market I stood in line holding a sack of fish and reading the cashier's T-shirt, which was in English: "Chilling under a palm tree," I said, as the cashier rang up some tomatoes. “C’est ça! What does it mean?” she asked.
"You know, de se la jouer cool, sans stress...”
Oui! C'est ça qui'l faut...” the cashier said gifting me an extra tomato. 
Merci! I’ll eat it for lunch,” I promised.

As I walked home with my bounty I realized nobody cares about my hair! We don’t see each other’s flaws. We only see each other's hearts--especially when our perspectives are refreshed. I will try to remember that the next time I’m holed up inside with my can of holy tuna, behaving like a bear. Company, fellowship, brotherhood--in one lovely word la camaraderie--is good for the soul. And home sweet home is a comfort as well. This leads us to one last synonym for "loner": un pantouflard--after "pantoufle" or slippers. Let's end on that cozy note.

***

MVIMG_20190615_180037Camaraderie, brotherhood, company--and a lot of smiles at our local fish market. That's the owner, second on the left, her son (second on the right) and friends. Related story: La Patronne at our local fishmarket, and solidarity following a visit by a burglar

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY 
la camaraderie = company, fellowship
la confrérie = brotherhood
une pantouflarde, un pantouflard = homebody, homebird, stay-at-home person
tergiverser = to procrastinate, to hem and haw
la foule = crowd
d’un seul coup = all at once
un (une) solitaire = loner
un ours des cavernes = a cave bear, recluse
un (une) sauvage = recluse, hermit
une petite chose = little thing 
une hirondelle = swallow (bird)
illico = pronto
j'étais délivré = I was free/freed
la poissonnerie = fish market
le patron (la patronne) = owner
une épreuve = a struggle
le cabillaud = cod
se la jouer cool = to play it cool 
c’est ça qu’il faut = that’s what’s needed

In books: Petit déjeuner à Paris: A Story in Easy French with Translation

IMG_3743 IMG_3737
If only that tongue could fan him in this heat! Smokey keeping cool in summer. The hanging tongue is une séquelle, or consequence of being attacked when he was a puppy.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


The worst thing about summer in the south of France + do you know these slang words?

Golden retriever Smokey in the garden
An almost 13-year-old Smokey, keeping cool in the garden. It's a good thing he can't hear so well these days, as the streets just beyond those hedges are loud at the start of summer. Read on in today's bruyante update.

TODAY'S FRENCH EXPRESSION: blindé


  1. jam-packed, full (of people)
  2. loaded (with money)

blindé de monde = crowded, full of people 

In books: Travels Through the French Riviera: An Artist’s Guide to the Storied Coastline, from Menton to Saint-Tropez

FRENCH SOUND FILE:
 Click below to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in today's post. Then scroll down to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.

Click here for the audio file

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE, by Kristi Espinasse

Over lunch on our terrasse, we were discussing the busy summer season here in the south of France when my family used some colorful words and expressions to describe la foule passant....

C’est la folie!” my belle-sœur said, of the crowded beaches in Marseilles. So packed you have to move your beach bag to make room for a stranger to set down their towel. Forty-five minutes east, in La Ciotat, “C’est le bordel!” Max seconded, pouring some chilled rosé into his father’s glass. “C’est blindé!” Jean-Marc agreed—the seafront is teeming with people.

Blindé, bordel, folie...Quietly eating my salade de pois chiches, I began mental-noting all this juicy argot in time to share it with you in the following piece about le bruit. So plug a couple of boule Quies into your ears and read along--it's going to get loud!

Litter, crowds, and pee (or “la miction publique”) are some désagréments of the tourist season in our seaside town. But what pains us the most isn’t the smell, the swell, or la poubelle... it’s the noise--the ear-shattering clattering. By June, our normally peaceful garden is now a cacophony of screaming toddlers, quarreling lovers, and screeching teenagers. And while these strangers are not actually in our yard, their reverberations are...

...a woman is clapping her shoes together, shaking free le sable, clack! clack! clack!...a shirtless man at the parking meter is shouting to a friend 5 cars away, "C’est quoi le numéro d'immatriculation?" What’s the license number on your car? 
"C'est E....T....6...3...5....Q...L" the other yells back. Often my daughter and I are just beyond the hedges, our lawn chairs in the crossfire of so much shouting. If it weren't so amusing it would be maddening

I sometimes want to call out from the other side of the oleanders: Est-ce que vous vous rendez compte qu'il y a des gens qui vivent ici? Do you realize that people live here? Instead, I run for cover. But escaping into the house doesn’t bring the quiet I am hoping for, as none of our upstairs windows have le double-vitrage, or double glazing—worse, they vibrate with each slam of the car door. I'm amazed at how many times a family of 4 can slam the doors. I lie in bed counting... un, deux, trois, huit?! Wait, someone's coming back for a forgotten towel, neuf, dix! Even if I had earplugs to block out the sound my nerve-drums hear it all.

If the daytime decibels weren't loud enough, nighttime is booming with le bruit...et la bagarre! Someone’s set off another pétard. A gaggle of teenagers are now running down the street, shrieking with glee. A block in the opposite direction and a fight's broken out. Hours later, people are heading home, but not before a few revelers make a pit stop at our hedges, trickle, trickle, trickle. And then, finally, the quiet of the early morning hours.

Then the garbage trucks arrive at 6 in all their thunderous glory. Finally I give up, get out of bed and head out to say good morning to Smokey and to my mom, who's reading in her butterfly chair.

"Did you hear those firecrackers? What a noisy night!" I say.
"Oh, I don't mind. We're in the South of France!"
I'm with Mom: it's all about perspective, and attitude is one way to drown out the claquements. (The screeching cicadas and our water fountain are good buffers, too). As for la foule passante, it helps to remember "this too shall pass"—but not before I mental-note more words, expressions, and juicy slang to share with you in the future. Therein lies the gift of going with the flow and tuning in to the passing crowd. 

*** 
 
E991D6BC-D3F6-4A1D-B1F0-8769297C4088
One of the boardwalks in our town, La Ciotat, above a tiny fishing port and its colorful “pointus,” or wooden boats.

Summer Reading: The Paris Library: A Novel by Janet Skeslien Charles

FRENCH VOCABULARY

blindé de monde = packed full of people
la terrasse
= patio, balcony
la foule passante = the passing crowd
C’est blindé = it’s packed
C’est la folie = it’s crazy
la belle-sœur = sister-in-law
C’est le bordel = it’s a mess!
le pois chiche = chickpea
l’argot
= slang
la bagarre = fight, brawl
le bruit = noise
le pétard = firecracker
boule Quies = ear plugs (named after a popular brand, quies signifies calm, tranquility)
la miction = urinating
publique
= public
le désagrément = annoyance, unpleasantness
la poubelle
= garbage can
le sable = sand
le claquement = slam, slamming
le numéro d'immatriculation = license plat number

Our front yard
One-half of our front garden. The other half is looking like the desert this sizzling time of year.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Le Défi: An upcoming challenge for Jean-Marc + full story recorded in French

GR 20 trail in Corsica France
One of the many "points d'eau" Jean-Marc talks about in his update, below. The English version follows and the entire story is available on sound file, below.

Today's French Word: "le défi"

    : challenge, dare

Sound File: Click below to listen to Jean-Marc read his story.  Note:  Jean-Marc repeats a few of the sentences in this long recording (where an error was made).

Click here for the audio File


JEAN-MARC'S UPDATE IN FRENCH

Dans deux semaines, je vais parcourir une des plus belles randonnées d'Europe : Le fameux GR20. Ce magnifique sentier traverse la Corse en diagonale, partant au Nord Ouest de cette "l'île de beauté" (Calenzana) pour arriver au Sud Est, à Conca.

La plupart de cet itinéraire est en haute montagne avec une incroyable diversité de flore composée de chênes, châtaignier et le maquis Corse, de faune et même au mois de Juin, il est fréquent de traverser des névés surtout dans la partie Nord du parcours. Je pars randonner avec mon meilleur ami, Nicolas, avec qui j'ai lié mon amitié pour la vie suite à un voyage inoubliable en mobylette à travers la Corse, alors que nous avions tout juste 15 et 16 ans.

L'année dernière, pour notre première partie du chemin, nous avons marché 5 étapes, chacune dure environ 8 heures et malgré la difficulté des importants dénivelés positifs et négatifs (qui font encore plus mal aux jambes), la beauté des paysages, les nombreux points d'eau pour se rafraîchir et l'excitation de marcher sur ce sentier mythique permettent d'oublier la souffrance.

Nous partons aux aurores pour éviter la chaleur et arrivons à chaque nouveau camp en milieu d'après midi pour déguster une omelette, une Pietra (bière Corse) avant une petite sieste, un dîner au coucher du soleil et quelques heures à essayer de dormir dans la même tente.

Il y a un an, j'étais en pleine forme physique et mentale. L'idée de ce périple, dont nous avions trop souvent repoussé l'organisation, me faisait frissoner de bonheur. Je garde un souvenir impérissable de cette semaine passée en pleine nature où j'ai gravi le plus haut sommet de Corse : Le Monte Cinto.

Aujourd'hui, les temps ont bien changé. Je traverse une période mentale très sombre et je ne suis sûrement pas assez prêt pour affronter physiquement ces épreuves sportives. Mais je ne louperai pour rien au monde ce magnifique défi car si je sais bien que je vais souffrir, je me dis aussi que si j'arrive à parcourir ces 5 étapes, je serai plus fort pour affronter tous les sommets psychologiques personnels qui m'attendent à mon retour.

Merci pour vos encouragements,
Jean-Marc

ENGLISH TEXT
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

In two weeks, I'm going to hike one of the most beautiful trails in Europe: The famous GR20. This magnificent track crosses Corsica diagonally, starting in the North West of this "island of beauty" (Calenzana) to arrive in the South East, in Conca.

Most of this itinerary is in the high mountains with an incredible diversity of flora composed of oaks, chestnut trees and the Corsican maquis, of fauna and even in June, it is frequent to cross snowy slopes especially in the northern part of the route. I will be hiking with my best friend, Nicolas, with whom I made a lifelong friendship after an unforgettable trip on a moped through Corsica when we were just 15 and 16 years old.

Last year, for our first part of the trail, we walked 5 stages, each one lasts about 8 hours and despite the difficulty of the important positive and negative changes in altitude (which make the legs even more painful), the beauty of the landscapes, the numerous water points to refresh ourselves and the excitement of walking on this mythical trail allow us to forget the suffering.

We leave at dawn to avoid the heat and arrive at each new camp in the middle of the afternoon to enjoy an omelette, a Pietra (Corsican beer) before a little nap, a dinner at sunset and a few hours trying to sleep in the same tent.

A year ago, I was in great shape physically and mentally. The idea of this trip, which we had postponed too often, made me shiver with happiness. I keep an imperishable memory of this week spent in the middle of nature where I climbed the highest summit of Corsica: Monte Cinto.

Today, times have changed. I'm going through a very dark mental period and I'm certainly not ready enough to face physically these sporting events. But I will not miss for anything in the world this magnificent challenge because if I know well that I will suffer, I also say to myself that if I manage to cover these 5 stages, I will be stronger to face all the personal psychological summits which await me at my return.

Thank you for your encouragement,
Jean-Marc


Book: Trekking the Corsica GR20: Two-Way Trekking Guide: Real IGN Maps 1:25,000

Jean-Marc in Corsica
Jean-Marc at the top of Monte Cinto, June 2021

IMG_20210620_113626
Jean-Marc and Nicolas

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Words, Meaning & Avoir le déclic (to have a lightbulb moment)

A cafe in Montmartre Paris
A café in Paris. A bit of a coffee theme in today's story, so we'll pair that now with a picture taken years ago in Montmartre.

TODAY'S FRENCH EXPRESSION: "avoir le déclic"

  : to have an aha moment, a lightbulb moment

FRENCH SOUND FILE:
Click below to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in today's post. Then scroll down to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.

Click here for the audio clip


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
, by Kristi Espinasse

I will never forget the time the true meaning to an English word jumped from a French page. It was Christmas at our vignoble near the Drôme and a children's storybook was concise enough for me to pause amidst the holiday flurry and read to the kids. Only, as soon as the lecture began a certain mot moved me to tears.

Fast forward 11 years and one more vineyard later... My husband and I are going through another phase, and for this we have been talking a lot to each other. These causeries are encouraging, difficult, relaxing, and sometimes funny. Especially amusing is how each time Jean-Marc says the word "express" (a recurring term lately) it conjures up an image of an expresso machine in my mind. Suddenly I picture hot water being forced through a dense mass of ground coffee, the liquid coming out the other side in rich, dark droplets (our cafetière italienne could use a good détartrage for the expressed coffee to flow out).

"TO EXPRESS"
The exact definition of the verb reflects this high-pressured process: to express... from old French expresser: “to press out, to obtain by squeezing.” Quelle image! Can you see how it illustrates the effort involved in transporting our thoughts or ideas to words? The next time I struggle to express myself I'll remember those precious droplets of expresso—it’ll also be a needed reminder to service our machine.  

Funny how remembering those gouttelettes is not helping much now as I try to conclude today’s causerie*...though droplets of another kind are forming on my brow from effort... One thing that helps me when I cannot express myself in French or English, specifically when I can’t find the word needed, is to stop squeezing my brain and quickly grasp for another way to say the same thing (this often involves a series of words to replace the unknown term). This keeps the conversation going fluently and requires creativity and un chouïa, or smidge, of confidence. When all else fails I have invented words, often accidentally, always to the amusement of my French interlocuteur.

In the name of expression, you might even borrow an inexact word (a colorful one, in theme with the discussion...) and plug it in juste comme ça, pour le plaisir. So, in closing, and for your thoughtful words following our recent update, Jean-Marc and I would like to espresso our thanks, in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, like good coffee, like a good verse.*  

Amicalement,
Kristi

Le café populaire

FRENCH VOCABULARY

avoir le déclic = bingo! eureka! to have an aha moment
le vignoble = vineyard
la Drôme provençale = French department
la lecture = reading
le mot = word
la causerie = informal conversation, chat; *also means short essay
la cafetière italienne = Italian espresso maker
le détartrage = descaling, tartar removal, cleaning
quelle image = what a picture
un expresso = espresso
une gouttelette = a droplet
un chouïa = a tad, a smidge
un interlocuteur, une interlocutrice = conversation partner
juste comme ça, pour le plaisir = just because, for the plaisir 
amicalement = yours, best wishes, best

* "pressed down, shaken together, and running over" from Luke 6:38 

Cordonnerie shoe repair shop to coffee shop
La Cordonnerie: a former shoe repair shop now expressing itself as a coffee shop in Paris. Ah! The power--the sheer percolating force--of expression!

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens